$2.1 Billion in New GPR Estimated Through Mid-2021

By John Forester | November 20, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

The outgoing Walker administration today projected the state will see $2.1 billion in new general purpose revenue through mid-2021.

The biannual report released this afternoon found the state’s ending balance on June 30 for the current fiscal year is now expected to be $662.6 million, $440.9 million more than previously expected.

The state is then projected to see another $1.6 billion in additional general purpose revenue over the 2019-21 budget.

Still, the Walker administration also noted today new spending requests from state agencies outstripped the anticipated revenue growth by nearly $1.1 billion.

See the report here.

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Invite Your Legislators to School

By John Forester | November 14, 2018

It’s time to invite your legislators to school.

The November election has changed the political environment for K-12 education in Madison.  Many of you now have new legislators, but even if you don’t, now is a good time to renew your relationships.

It is clear to me that in order to meet the challenges posed by the 2019-21 state budget, SAA members must enhance their ability to influence their legislators at the grassroots.

The best way to influence your legislators is to develop relationships with them.  Each legislator has a “small circle of experts” that they count on for advice on various legislative issues.  It is important for you to become one of your legislator’s experts on K-12 education issues.  Inviting your legislators to your school is a great way to begin or continue developing this relationship.  Use the visit as an opportunity to showcase your school and to let your legislator know that you are an important source of information for them on K-12 education issues.  You’ll also have an opportunity to discuss the major issues impacting K-12 education.

If you have not invited your legislators to school yet in 2018-19 school year, take the time to extend that invitation.  In fact, make it a point to meet personally with each of your legislators to review key issues at least once a year.  It’s a good idea to coordinate these visits with your district’s administrative team.

Remember, the SAA’s success on state legislative issues is, in large part, dependent upon your ability to influence your legislators at the local level.

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Most Wisconsin Schools Meet or Exceed Expectations

By John Forester | November 13, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Most Wisconsin schools are meeting or exceeding expectations, according to the latest round of state report cards released today by the Department of Public Instruction.

Across the state, nearly 84 percent of public and private schools and 96 percent of districts earned three stars or more in the five-star rating system in the 2017-18 school year. That’s up slightly from the 2016-17 school year, when 82 percent of schools and 95 percent of districts received at least three stars.

And overall, no district received a failing score this year — which would have kick-started a potential state takeover under the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program. Fourteen districts received a two-star rating, landing in the “meets few expectations” category, compared with 20 over the last school year.

Still, 95 public and private schools earned a one-star rating — down from 117 last year. Forty percent of the schools are in Milwaukee School District, and 7 percent are in Racine Unified School District.

The five-star system corresponds with a graded scale of 1 to 100 and is based on improving student performance, closing of achievement gaps, math and language arts statewide standardized test scores and getting ready for postsecondary education.

DPI officials are also highlighting the 126 schools and three districts in the state that lost points over student absenteeism in the latest report cards — the highest figures ever recorded by the agency. Schools and districts are deducted 5 points if they don’t meet the state’s target absenteeism rate of less than 13 percent.

The agency under this round of report cards also began collecting data to gauge schools’ college and career readiness, including advanced placement participation, dual enrollment statistics and youth apprenticeship participation, among other things, as mandated under the current budget.

The data isn’t being released on the current report cards, DPI Office of Educational Accountability Director Laura Pinsonneault said, but it’s possible it’ll be included on next year’s.

The budget, she noted, doesn’t require the data to be factored into schools’ or districts’ scores. But she noted a DPI Accountability Advisory Group made up of education officials is meeting to make determinations on including data in upcoming report cards and whether any of it should impact overall scores.

The latest report cards also show a large fluctuation in certain schools’ and districts’ over scores from last school year to this one. In all, six districts and 138 schools logged a change of at least 10 points between the 2016-17 report cards and the 2017-18 ones.

That’s down from 161 schools and 24 districts between the previous two report cards. This time around, more than half the 138 schools have 300 students or less and many are rural.

Pinsonneault noted the last three years of report cards marked a change in the way DPI measures schools and districts.

Under the current report card system, school officials must use value-added growth scoring and variable weighting — essentially a prioritization of growth over achievement, particularly in districts with a higher poverty rate. The move was mandated by the last biennial budget.

Pinsonneault said one of the biggest impacts on the decrease in fluctuations is because there are more years of test data from the Wisconsin Forward Exam, which began in the 2015-16 school year. That, she said, leads to more stability when calculating growth scoring.

Meanwhile, DPI will also release a second set of report cards later this year. Those, agency spokesman Tom McCarthy said, will focus on areas highlighted under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

See the DPI release here.

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Evers Names Gau Chief of Staff; Anton Transition Director

By John Forester | November 12, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Maggie Gau, who served as Tony Evers’ campaign manager for his successful guv bid and previously worked as a legislative aid in the state Capitol, will become his chief of staff.

Meanwhile, JoAnne Anton, who formerly worked as U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s state director and now leads his philanthropic organization, will be the director of Evers’ transition team, the campaign announced today.

Evers’ campaign also announced five co-chairs:

Stay tuned.

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Walker Concedes

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Scott Walker conceded this afternoon, offering the “full support of my staff and our cabinet” as Dem rival Tony Evers begins the transition process.

In a statement that thanked his family and aides and paid homage to his father, who passed away during the campaign, the guv praised Evers for “his gracious comments on our call today.” He also thanked Wisconsin voters, saying it was his honor to serve as their guv for eight years.

“We’ve come a long way together and it is my sincere hope that the progress we’ve made during our time in office will continue and that we can keep Wisconsin working for generations to come,” Walker said.

See the statement here.

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SAA Statement on Evers’ Election Victory

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

The SAA has issued this statement on the election of Tony Evers to Governor.

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Public School Districts and Private School Pupil Transportation

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

From the Legal Side . . .

In its most recent Legal Update, the Strang Patteson Law Firm reviews a recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding Wisconsin school districts’ private school pupil transportation requirements.

The SAA regularly receives these legal updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Strang Patteson.

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School Referendum Results

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

From The Wheeler Report …

Please find linked below the School Referendum Results from around the state compiled by The Wheeler Report from DPI data.

The success rate on these referenda questions is overwhelming.  Check it out.

School Referendum Results

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Senate GOP, Dems to Caucus Tomorrow

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Senate Republicans will caucus tomorrow in Room 411 South for leadership elections, according to Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office.

GOP legislative leaders had previously announced plans to come in next week for an extraordinary session. A Fitzgerald aide said the caucus plans to discuss scheduling, but didn’t plan to get into the merits of the Kimberly-Clark incentive package, which sparked the extraordinary session call.

Senate Dems are scheduled to caucus tomorrow as well.

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Wisconsin Voters Go for Divided Government

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Democrats in Wisconsin are claiming a sweep of statewide offices after a wild election night that appears to end eight years of Republican dominance at the statehouse.

But while state schools Superintendent Tony Evers declared victory over Gov. Scott Walker, the Walker team has not conceded. Josh Kaul also had a slim lead over GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel in a race that hadn’t been called.

“It’s time for change, folks,” Evers told supporters in Madison. “And now that the race is behind us, I look forward to moving forward together.”

But Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in her remarks to supporters in Pewaukee early this morning hinted at preparing for a possible recount. Saying “the fight is not over,” Kleefisch said the Walker campaign is “preparing for the likelihood of a recount.”

She spoke as Milwaukee County officials announced a final tally of more than 40,000 absentee ballots that swung heavily in Evers’ favor.

And Walker aide Brian Reisinger told WisPolitics.com the campaign was waiting for the official canvass and for military ballots to be counted before any decisions could be made.

He added thousands “of ballots were damaged and had to be recreated” in Milwaukee, but didn’t provide additional details.

“Until there is a comparison of the original ballots to the recreated ballots, there is no way to judge their validity,” he said.

The unofficial statewide results, with all precincts reporting, have Evers up by 31,061 votes over Walker with 49.6 percent of the 2.67 million cast in the governor’s race.

Under a new state law, a losing candidate must finish no more than 1 percent behind the winner to be able to request a recount, and the margin must be less than .25 percent otherwise the candidate requesting it must cover the costs.

The unofficial margin is nearly 1.2 percent of all votes cast.

Walker, who garnered 48.4 percent, throughout the night failed to hit his 2014 vote totals in several key areas as he lost his bid for a third four-year term.

See Journal Sentinel coverage here.

Despite Democrats’ apparent sweep of constitutional offices and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s 10 percentage-point victory over Leah Vukmir, Republicans will return for next session with secure majorities.

The Senate GOP caucus was poised to return in the majority at 19-14 after Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, beat Sen. Caleb Frostman in Door County’s 1st CD — a rematch of their June special election. Other seats targeted by Dems were held by Republicans, including the southwestern Wisconsin seat held by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, won the seat being vacated by Vukmir; Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, won the GOP seat opened by Terry Moulton’s retirement; and former state Rep. Jeff Smith kept Kathleen Vinehout’s western Wisconsin seat in Dem hands.

In the Assembly, Republicans went into Tuesday with a 64-35 majority and only a handful of races in GOP-held seats ended up being nip-and-tuck.

GOP state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk had just a 21-vote lead over Dem Robyn Vining with all precincts reporting.

See Journal Sentinel coverage here.

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